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「連峰は晴れているか」 (Renpou wa Hareteiru ka) & 「心あたりのある者は」 (Kokoroatari no Aru Mono wa)
“Is the Mountain Range Sunny?” & “Anyone Who Knows”
For the inquisitive mind who loves to question the how and why of anything and everything, Hyouka’s everyday whodunits can be quite compelling to watch. They don’t have to be standard crime mysteries involving theft, murder, or criminal conspiracies for me to enjoy putting myself in Houtarou’s shoes, playing detective, and then trying to solve them before he can. Even if a case is mundane and unimportant in comparison to the mysteries found in other shows, they are still able to capture my interest completely from beginning to end as I work through possible theories. In a sense, the mental exercise this show provides feels more rewarding than other mystery shows because of how practical and realistic they are to us everyday armchair detectives.
A perfect example of why I enjoy this show so much was the “mystery” presented in episode 19, and more specifically, a look into Houtarou’s process of deduction. Listening to him walk through his thought process when creating his theories was enlightening to say the least. When attempting to solve mysteries, or even just a regular problem, I often work off of intuition when crafting my theories. More often than not, they tend to be on the right track, but if I am asked the reasoning behind how I built these theories, I wouldn’t be able to explain it very well. For example, immediately after hearing the school’s announcement, I had a feeling that the school was looking for students who were in trouble, a feeling I’m sure many other viewers had as well. However, I wouldn’t really tell you exactly how I came to this conclusion. After all, how do you explain intuition? A hallmark of a good detective is the ability to explain how you came to every conclusion, every theory, by walking through the thought processes used to arrive to them. Watching Houtarou at work made me realize I still have a long ways to go.
By all appearances, Houtarou is not one prone to letting his intuition dictate or guide his process of deduction. To start off, he relies on his superb and oftentimes uncanny powers of observation and memory, such as noting what is unusual and what is normal about events that most people would miss any incongruities. Houtarou is able to hone on a specific word used, the manner the announcement was made, so on and so forth, in order to narrow down the logical possibilities of the events that led up to the mystery at hand. This winnowing, this logical elimination is crucial in making a theory that fits and makes sense in the context of the mystery. Not every theory can stick – it’s usually only those that are made following these important steps. The sequence Houtarou went through in making his eerily accurate theory made me realize the limitations of working solely through intuition, even if some of it may be based on logical deductions that I just may not have explicitly voiced.
Good detectives build their cases on sound and logical reasoning, but I feel great detectives have a measure of intuition that helps guide their thought processes as well. From what we’ve seen so far, Houtarou seems to be lacking in this area. He’s undoubtedly a genius detective, but even his talent can fall short at times without an intuition to keep his theories in check or guiding where they should begin. Fortunately there’s a girl by his side who may not possess anything even approaching the same level of deductive reasoning that he has, but instead has a talent for intuitively knowing whether or not one of his theories feels correct. Time and time again, Chitanda’s curiosity has been by far her most visible personality trait and therefore the one she is best known for. That said, I would argue that her intuition is at least as important to the series, if not more so. We saw it at play during the movie arc and now again during this intellectual exercise that it’s clear that without Chitanda’s objections to Houtarou’s theories, his final theory most likely would never match the truth or come so close to it. Her influence on him is invaluable, and in more ways than one.
Yet for all the mysteries we’ve seen, Hyouka at its core is not a show that is driven by them. Although not every character may have his or her fans, they are its strengths nonetheless, and that’s what makes this series more of a character-driven one. As we saw in the previous school festival arc, the way Hyouka combines a compelling mystery with wonderful character development has been truly a pleasant surprise. It’s why I feel that even when the mystery at the center of the episode is unexciting at best and banal at worst, the dynamics between the characters and their continuing character development can carry the show by itself. With most of the supporting cast having their day in the sun during the school festival arc, it was nice to see the spotlight returned to the two most iconic characters of the show: Houtarou and Chitanda. From day one, this pairing has been set up as one of the central themes of the series, and it’s hard to see why not. We all knew that eventually, her childlike curiosity would have an effect on him, but we didn’t know how exactly it would manifest.
After seventeen episodes of Chitanda’s constant “kininarimasu!” Houtarou has changed from a person defined by apathy and inaction to one who is increasingly showing signs of curiosity and initiative. Before he met her, he would probably have never shown a curiosity about why his old teacher took such a keen interest in a helicopter that one time, or went to such great lengths to try and figure it out by going to the library after school. Houtarou’s energy expenditure has seemingly multiplied tenfold after meeting her. It’s not just his curiosity and initiative that has grown and benefited from Chitanda’s influence either; as mentioned earlier, his already prodigious detective skills have been undoubtedly improved by the guiding hand of her intuition.
With the two characters becoming closer and closer and their personality development seemingly becoming more intertwined, a romantic tension forming was a nearly inevitable outcome. All the near kisses and sparks flying between the two have made me interested in seeing how their relationship continues to evolve as the series begins to approach its conclusion. The everyday mysteries aspect is what brought me to Hyouka, but it’s the characters that have kept me coming back week after week.
- Apologies for the extremely late post!